Sporting Vernacular: 13. STEWARD

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WHEN RAY COCHRANE was surprisingly beaten on the favourite, Keld, at Lingfield last week, there was naturally a stewards' inquiry (though in this case they referred it on for further investigation by the Jockey Club).

Although the word "steward" evokes rural images, these tend to feature horses rather than pigs. Originally, though, a steward meant someone in charge of a sty. Its Old English precursor "stigweard" combined "stig" or hall or sty (which originally meant a dwelling for all farm animals, and only later pigs alone) and "weard", guardian or keeper.

The word has been used in an equine context since racing first became an organised sport. In 1703, for example, the London Gazette reported on "The Horses to be shewn at the George in Amsbury..., and to be entred by the Steward."